Usually when I see this it is associated with forward head posture. Forward head posture occurs for many reasons. You may have had a neck injury or whiplash injury that shifted the spine and was never corrected, or it could be from repetitive motion or a repetitive posture.
Especially with the emergence of computers, laptops and mobile devices you see many people who log long hours with their head down and forward. This is the posture I’m referring to.
What happens as the head shifts forward is that the cervical spine often loses curvature. The upper back follows and starts to hunch outward. This often creates what is called an increased khyphosis. A khyphotic curve is in your dorsal or thoracic spine, otherwise known as your upper and mid back. In the neck and lower back the curvature opens towards the back and is called a lordosis.
An accentuation of one of these curves is called Hyperlordosis, and a flattening or loss of one of these curvatures is referred to as a Hypolordosis. One more thing to note is that in some cases of forward head and hunching of the upper back we see a cervical khyphosis. This is when the normal “C” curve in the neck, the cervical lordosis, actually curves in the wrong direction. And don’t forget, any misalignment, even millimeters, is enough to block the nerve flow over 50% of the normal amount.
A cervical khyphosis puts an abnormally large amount of stress on the spine as well as the spinal cord, nerves, and neck and upper back muscles. Imagine taking a loose rubber band, pulling and stretching it, this is analogous to what you would be doing to your spinal cord. However, this is a topic for another ezine.
Let’s get back to the upper back. In some cases we see extreme humping of the upper back and a hyper khyphosis in the thoracic spine. This is often associated with severe degeneration and osteoporosis. We will sometimes see fractures of the vertebrae allowing this extreme change in alignment to occur. This is called a Dowager’s Hump.
What ever the case, I see hunching out of the upperback more often than I like. I see it in patients, and often they present into the office with neck or back pain, but not always. I also see it sometimes in relatives, people at the grocery store, you name it, just look around.
Remember that if your posture is starting to look like this, then your spine inside is looking like this also, and it usually will continue to worsen. Use postural exercises to prevent as well as get rid of this hump. Also, always be aware of your posture; this can make a huge difference because you can correct it if you are in one position to long or find yourself with your head forward to often. Lastly, a great posture correction tool is a neck pillow. Not only will it prevent this bad posture but it will keep the nerves free from pressure in other instances too.